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''UPA committed to empowerment of minorities'': Pallam Raju

''UPA committed to empowerment of minorities'': Pallam RajuNew Delhi, Dec 28 : Asserting that the UPA Government is committed to the empowerment of minorities, Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Dr. M. M. Pallam Raju on Friday said the Prime Minister''s New 15 Point Programme and the recommendations of the Justice Sachar Committee addresses this challenge of enhancement of education of the minorities.

"The XI Five Year Plan had also underlined that education is the critical factor that empowers participation in the growth process and a key element of XI Plan strategy was to provide essential education to those large parts of our population who are still excluded from these," he added in his speech delivered on the ''Eighth Foundation Day'' of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) here.

Dr. Raju said education being the most effective instrument for social and economic empowerment and vital for horizontal and vertical mobility in the society, it is imperative to promote education among all other backward sections, especially the minorities, who have fallen far behind the national average in education.

"The Sachar Committee as well as other studies have found that the reason for the relative social and economic backwardness of the minorities, especially of the Muslims, is due to their educational backwardness. Therefore, in order to pull such minorities, constituting approximately 18.42 percent of the country''s population from the brink of marginalization and to infuse a sense of inclusiveness in the national mainstream, it is essential to enhance education of the minorities," he added.

Pointing out that several initiatives have been rolled out by the UPA Government to achieve the targets envisioned in the Prime Minister''s New 15 Point Programme for the welfare of the minorities and the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, Dr. Raju said the HRD Ministry has taken several initiatives to address the low participation of minorities in the national education system, particularly Muslims.

"Under the Prime Minister''s 15 Point Programme for Welfare of Minorities, Schemes amenable to earmarking of financial and physical targets for minorities, have been implemented to ensure that benefit to minority communities is beyond 15 percent as in case of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) where share of minorities is up to 20 percent," said Dr. Raju.

"In order to enhance participation of minorities in the national education system, various initiatives have been undertaken - 121 districts with concentration of Muslim population are specifically targeted for maximising school access and eliminating infrastructure gaps through opening of 1470 new Primary Schools and 445 Upper Primary Schools; construction of 45541 additional classrooms and recruitment of 32728 teachers during 2011-12. Also, out of 3609 KGBVs sanctioned, 555 KGBVs have been sanctioned in these 121 Minority Concentration Districts," he added.

Dr. Raju said the states have been urged to cover out of school children going to madarsas/ maqtabs.

"7828 recognized madarsas/ maqtabs covering 10.1 lakh Muslim children and 4040 unrecognised madarsas/maqtabs covering 1.6 lakh Muslim children under Education Guarantee Scheme/ Alternative Innovative Education under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan," said Dr. Raju.

"Due to these interventions the share of Muslim children enrolled at primary and upper primary level has gone up and those out of school have decreased. According to District Information System of Education (DISE) the enrolment of Muslim children at primary and upper primary level for the year 2010-11 was 13.04 percent and 11.25 percent respectively," he added.

Dr. Raju said that in higher education, setting up of Women''s Hostels, establishment of Model Degree Colleges in districts with low higher education GER, setting up of polytechnics, setting up of Equal Opportunity Offices in universities, establishment of Centres for study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies in universities are some of the schemes/initiatives which have benefitted minorities/minority concentrated areas.

"The professional development of Urdu teachers and setting up of residential coaching academies for minorities are some other initiatives. Strengthening the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) and expanding its mandate has been a significant milestone," he added.

The HRD Minister further assured that the government will do its best to promote education and overall welfare of the Minorities in general and of the Muslims, constituting major chunk of the minorities, in particular. (ANI)